Preview: The Conduit
If you haven't had your fill of first person shooters, prepare to enter The Conduit.
Due in June, and shaping up as Nintendo's graphical flagship, the game hopes to prove that visually stunning shooters are not the exclusive domain of those other platforms.
The Wii exclusive from developer High Voltage Software has sent some ripples through the gaming world with its audacious full frontal assault on the FPS genre.
While we don't need to go through them all here, from Halo to Killzone 2, it is up against a formidable list of gaming's big boys, and if the game hopes to compete it had better bring its best in terms of graphics, gameplay, and story.
In The Conduit you take the part of Mr. Ford. Mr. Ford is recruited by John Adams (we are in Washington DC after all, so expect a handful of US political in-jokes).
Adams is the head of The Trust and enlists Mr. Ford in the battle against the evil alien race called the Drudge. Cue dark moody corridors, hi-tech alien hardware and clenched jaw resolution in the face of impossible odds.
The Conduit's shining light is undoubtedly its graphics. From dynamic environments to interactive weather, as well as technical advancements in textures, lighting and reflections, everything about the title has raised the bar in terms of what is possible on the Wii. All elements are executed crisply and cleanly, without overly affecting animations and framerate. Graphically the game is stunning.
Although the unavoidable truth is that every compliment has to be qualified with 'for the Wii'. Put simply, no matter how good it gets the platform still lags behind the Xbox and PlayStation when it comes to issues of detail, draw distance and on-screen congestion. Unfortunately, the Wii simply lacks the power. All things considered The Conduit is a visually stunning game... for the Wii.
When it comes to gameplay though there is nothing stopping the Wii from producing a totally energetic, immersive and compelling experience. The Conduit looks to tear us all away from our years of gamepad, mouse and keyboard-initiated alien killing sprees, and suck us into a world where the Wiimote and Nunchuck are our weapons of choice.
Even though High Voltage has included the ability to modify the system's range of motion, thereby adjusting the targeting system to your personal preference, if The Conduit pulls this off it would rival any of its visual accomplishments.
However, amidst all the hype over the graphics there have also been a number of less encouraging reports regarding the game's overall design. Navigation within the game can be difficult. Getting to the end of a level takes a lot of wandering around searching for hidden exits, and even the odd puzzle to unlock both doors and story.
This, coupled with some uninspired objectives, may make The Conduit an exercise in endurance rather then a thrill a minute time eater, even if you are wandering around in beautifully rendered knee-deep water with remarkable reflective qualities.
There is an argument to make that comparing what is essentially an independently developed title to those previously mentioned, corporately funded juggernauts that typicaly dominate the genre is rather obvious and unnecessary.
The Wii is what it is. Its graphics are what they are and its control system is what it is. And in the end, The Conduit is a game for the Wii.
So if you want a great looking FPS, or if you want some fast paced online multi-player action, or if you've simply had enough of those alien mongrels and feel like exacting some plasma-fuelled revenge, then come June The Conduit will be the place to be.